Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Releasing Vs. Conditioning
Restorative yoga can be primarily about “release” as a core directive.
The most widespread contemporary, popular yoga that fills the room can be more about “conditioning” as a core directive.
Most participants of mainstream yoga seek and enjoy conditioning qualities. Slow down a lot and folks are likely to get up and walk out of the practice, angry. Popular yoga is typically associated with fitness, which seems to be an obvious reason for doing yoga, with “yoga fitness” being more oriented toward flexibility and mental challenge that is intriguing. If new to popular yoga, one is likely to be sore the next day due to being “out of condition”—revealing the condition aspect.
If one is new to restorative yoga, one is likely to not be sore the next day.
When closest to its essence or “heart practice,” restorative yoga is release. Every acion is quiet, calm, eased, relaxed. Slow flowing body actions amplify relaxation. Desensitization (through perhaps lowered light, supports, blankets, fragrance and soft music) amplifies relaxation. Physiologically, that which relaxes is the nervous system in body tissue—organs, vessels, ligaments and muscles. Physiologically, restorative yoga can relax nerves that are the primary controllers of muscles and ligaments. Nerves control the degree of relaxation as is demonstrated in anesthesia where surgeons need to be careful not to dislocate joints due to markedly increased muscle flex with nerves “turned off.”
For most, the controlled stress on body and mind is the main point. To release stress, the focus becomes short-term stress. The release of stress is irrelevant and experiences that the end of practice. For most, the “lazed, everyday modern body” needs the stress and short-term stress is good. And it is good in many ways. Working one’s ass off is very good for many things. Perhaps with ass-working, one can even accomplish “scorpion” or perhaps “firefly” or “Marichyasana IV” or a raging back bend. Not a bad thing, really, fee or free, but not “releasing.”
Restorative yoga can offer a heart-yoga practice, or, perhaps, not “yoga” at all.
At any rate, there is a particular philosophy of care in “Restorative,” that can be expanded to all asanas, so that all asanas can become “islands of grace” (as in “soft power yoga, described elsewhere in previous Islands Of Grace blog posts).
Here the philosophy of care is grounded in “kindness yoga”—yoga metta—and Vanda Scaravelli’s notions of freeing the body, following the poses, no system, listening, body awareness of especially that body part that is taut or “lit-up,” etc. …
Again, why “releasing”?
My query into the idea of releasing came from just a few secondary words mentioned by a N. California yoga teacher at a place on Point Reyes called Commonweal [featured on Bill Moyer’s Healing & The Mind many years past] who said that it was central to yoga. For a few years, no yoga teacher seemed to have a clue what I was asking about. Then there was the mention of the possibility of touching it in “restorative yoga” and/or in “yin yoga.” I think I was drawn to this idea due to more than half a century now of practicing martial “aiki” that seemed to have most of the “releasing ideas” as their deepest practice.